Great news! Transport for London (TfL) has finally announced a proposed route for an extension to the Bakerloo Line on the London Underground - the only part of the Underground that still has spare capacity when heading into central London, thanks to its abrupt termination at Elephant and Castle.
The proposed route makes a lot of sense too as it will bring rail connectivity to a much underserved part of South London. Following an earlier consultation, the decision has been made to tell Camberwell and Peckham Rye to bugger off - and go with the option that will see the line extended from Elephant, to two new stations built along the Old Kent Road, before heading to New Cross Gate (offering a convenient change with the Overground and National Rail) and finally terminating at Lewisham (with changes to the DLR and National Rail). Apparently this route was chosen because it has the most scope for regeneration.
The bad news is that even if TfL and the Mayor can secure the cash for the extension (which is far from certain), the extension won't open until 2028-29 - so a decade away even with the most optimistic forecast. This also means that I'll be over 40 by the time I get to ride on it. (In fact, it's probably likely that some of the suits making the big decisions about the extension will be dead by the time it's done.)
While new train lines are always good news as far as Giz is concerned, they are never without controversy. To build the Elizabeth Line through central London it has required the bulldozing of a number of historic and iconic buildings - most notably the old Astoria music venue on Tottenham Court Road. So now TfL knows where it wants to dig up to extend the Bakerloo read on to discover what buildings will be on the death warrant that Mayor Khan will be signing.
Elephant & Castle
The first big challenge is going to be enlarging the station at Elephant & Castle to cope with thousands of new passengers: Not only is the Bakerloo being extended, but the whole area is being regenerated or gentrified, depending on your political persuasion.
As of yet, an exact site for any extended station has yet to be announced, but TfL has defined this whole area as somewhere that the wrecking ball could fall.
If we were betting, we'd put our money on the famously ugly Elephant & Castle shopping centre getting bulldozed, as the council has wanted to do it for ages, and building a massive new train station would provide a decent excuse. And despite its looks, this would be a genuine historic loss, as it was supposedly the first covered shopping mall in Europe.
"Old Kent Road 1"
The Bakerloo would then head along New Kent Road, before turning at Bricklayers Arms and heading down Old Kent Road to the first new station, which at the moment is known simply as "Old Kent Road 1". There's currently two nearby options for where TfL wants to build it.
Option A would see the new station built just off of the main road, on the junction with Dunton Road, just opposite the massive Tescos. Here's TfL's map:
And if you're wondering what a loss to London this site would be, here's some pictures of what is currently there:
Not the Conway office! Thanks to Google, here's a 3D map of the site. The red line marks the construction site - so everything inside would be dismantled so they can build the station, and the purple box marks where the station will actually be (in fact, it'll probably be underground so there'll be a small above-ground entrance and the top covered in flats existing locals can't afford and new shop).
But that's only Option A. If we really want to save the Conway office, we should start the campaign now and instead campaign for Option B - which is the actual massive Tesco. Here's TfL's map:
And here's my recreation in Street View to show what a real, tragic loss it would be:
This is what we'd be losing:
"Old Kent Road 2"
The second Old Kent Road station looks set to be equally controversial, and could see more iconic London buildings torn from the landscape. Again, there are two options.
First, there's Option A - which would build a new station where the PC World on the junction with St James' Road is now.
Okay, so it isn't quite the Astoria - but I do have fond memories of once buying some printer ink there in 2011.
So what about Option B? Is that any more palatable? Mercifully that would only take out a branch of Toys R Us:
What's actually quite striking about all of the plans is that TfL appears to be working carefully to avoid knocking down any actual houses - most of the plans cover big box stores and supermarkets - and on this one in particularly, you can see how it carefully traces around the edge of where people actually live. Clearly they don't want anyone crying on the news about losing their home.
New Cross Gate
New Cross Gate is a hugely obvious interchange for the extension. And here, TfL only has one option in mind: Blowing up the iconic Sainsburys store next to the station and - horrifyingly - the petrol station too.
TfL is showing no mercy: The entire Sainsbury's site is enclosed within the construction area.
And then the actual station will be constructed a wonky angle - which probably makes a lot more sense to the architects than it does to us.
And finally, what about Lewisham? If you're a fan of the bus station it might be a good idea to get on down there now and breath those sweet, sweet diesel fumes while you still can, as if TfL get their way, buses will be relegated to somewhere else.
The good news, that will have historians and fans of London's heritage breathing a sigh of relief, is that it looks as though the Sports Direct and Matalan will escape unscathed. Phew!
Shafts and Holes
The stations won't be the only new constructions that will upturn the South London landscape. In order to make the new extension safe, they also need to build emergency access and ventilation shafts. So the following places are also going to be smashed up by diggers.
At Bricklqyers it appears that the plan is to dig up the land in the middle of the gyratory for an emergency shaft.
Though the shaft will only take up part of the area, the whole thing will be turned into a construction site, and will no doubt be a huge loss to... well, probably drug dealers or something. Who hangs out in the middle of a roundabout?
This park at Faraday Gardens is also a goner:
And in Lewisham, two new shafts are required. One will see the destruction of this branch of Big Yellow Self Storage. No, we're not sure what happens to stuff being stored either.
And finally - perhaps most devastating of all - this car park that's wedged between railway lines will also being turned into a big air hole.
So there you have it. This is the devastation that's about to hit South London. If you want to save any of these iconic buildings, now is the time to start harassing English Heritage. Or at the very least you can make representations to TfL through the official consultation.
Maps in this piece are from TfL. Streetview images and 3D models are from Google Maps. Scribbles on top are by me.